Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dr. Stephen Krashen featured on People Make a Difference

People Make a Difference with Danny Brassell 03/14/2011 interviewing the distinguished Dr. Stephen Krashen. A real education expert discusses real solutions for education and places blame for struggling schools squarely were it belongs, on poverty.

[click here if you can't view this video]

Stephen Krashen, PhD, is a Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California


Monday, May 16, 2011

An Echo Park Mom speaks out on the LAUSD District 5 Race

My dear friends and neighbors, please join me and Jackie Goldberg and vote for Bennett Kayser in TUESDAY's election. Please vote tomorrow for Bennet Kayser to the LA School Board — this is the most important vote of this year.

My dear friends and neighbors, please join me and Jackie Goldberg and vote for Bennett Kayser in TUESDAY's election
Neighbors and friends,

As you all know I have been recently very active in our Local schools. Throughout the last 8 months I have been able to meet Bennet Kayser, and he he has so impressed me with his passion for education, his love for our neighborhood and his guts to take on Luis Sanchez and the HUGE political machine that has built and support him. I don't want to get into the negatives about Luis Sanchez, but I personally have been very upset and offended by him. During the Cres#14 debacle and since, L. Sanchez did not return one phone call or email to The Echo Park Mom's and Dad's for Education. He did not attend any community meetings and yet was a part of the group that handed our $69 million dollar new school to a private group who is not serving our community. He also has never been an educator, he has not had one single day as a teacher and has no idea what we and our children need and experience. His political ties and connections to private money is very, very concerning for a person who will be representing our area, our schools and the $ contacts that will be awarded. Luis Sanchez means to reward his friends for the millions paid into his campaign and to use the School Board position to launch his political career.

Bennet on the other hand attended many meetings regarding Cres#14 and offered his help in any way he could. Something not mentioned about him is that he has Parkinson's disease and this will likely be his last service to our community. He is looking to serve us as our School Board rep in the best way a human can and not use us and our schools as a ladder. Most of us have probably met Bennet as he has been a parent and active member of our community. If you haven't had the opportunity to meet him, please take it from me he is a very nice and honest man who is only doing his best to be a civil servant and help the community he lives in and loves.

Please PLEASE Vote for Bennet tomorrow.

Windy O'Malley

Please forward this to everyone in the area. SB 5 area includes Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Highland Park, Atwater, Mount Washington, Eagle Rock, and many more see area 5 in white:

Positive facts Facts about Bennett:

Bennett has lived in the same house in the Echo Park/Silver Lake area for the past 34 years. He and his wife Peggy have raised two wonderful children, Nathan and Noah, who attended Ivanhoe Elementary, King Middle School, and graduated from John Marshall High School.
Bennett Kayser served as a LAUSD middle school and science teacher for more than 14 years before retiring. He taught in regular classrooms and in an independent study program with students at risk of dropping out of school.
As a District teacher, Bennett saw more and more waste of resources that could have been used in classrooms, but were instead squandered away.

As a result of cutbacks to classroom funds, Bennett had a budget of $1.95 per student to teach seventh grade science and health - not enough to buy even the most basic of supplies.
Along with prioritizing classroom funding, Bennett wants to be a school board member in order to recreate an environment where teachers can use their creativity and skills to make kids life


Reprint of letter to the 4LAKIDS editor on LAUSD District 5 race

Scott Folsom's 4LAKIDS site featured this letter with his commentary preceeding it on Saturday. I'm reprinting it here without modification or editing.

TUESDAY'S ELECTION: For your voting consideration

It doesn't take much to realize that Villaraigosa's Luiz Sanchez, whose backers and politics are identical to Flores, will treat our community with the same arrogant disdain.
[smf: I am forwarding the following unsolicited email from a 4LAKids reader and warrior in the battle for good public education in LAUSD. I have removed the writer's name because she is a district employee who should remain anonymous so as to stand a chance of keeping her job - and unfortunately it comes to that. Her opposition to Luis Sanchez is complete; her endorsement of Bennett Kayser is restrained ...but well reasoned. Let's face it: Thomas Jefferson is not a candidate in every election and there are many who couldn't vote for Tom! I don't necessarily agree with her opinion of the school police but she should say these things. She quotes me and I hate quoting myself ...but I did edit my comments because somebody should!]

Dear dear friends (sending to those I know - please feel free to forward),

Please allow me to weigh in on Luis Sanchez as I live in District 5. I have a kid in a good local school, and if he gets elected I believe PUBLIC education will be further at risk. Although I wish I were more enthusiastic about Bennett Kayser, I will vote for him because I believe he will be fair to ALL models of instruction and work hard for the success of all students in the district.

He is the better choice for me ---- Ah, democracy!

Here are just two of many reasons why I can't consider Sanchez:

Charter alternatives started by parents, teachers and other dedicated educators are great and necessary, and contribute to the mosaic of good education.
But there are corporations who view education as an industry to be conquered. They sit in the halls of Beaudry (LAUSD headquarters) and lobby Monica Garcia and her chief of staff Luis Sanchez. She ingratiates herself with business and succeeds in a divide-and-conquer effort to pit ALL charters (grassroots and corporate) and existing public schools against each other. Luis Sanchez is her mini-me, and favors charters over traditional public schools. It's not in children's best interests to pit groups of passionate people who have the same goals against each other. It's in all our interests to learn from each other and grow collaboratively.

Luis Sanchez cites LASPD support more than any other group. Isn't that a little weird? Do the LASPD teach our children? Are they publicly accountable? Are they even competent?
How much do they cost? Why is there a giant banner hanging on a building along the west side of the 110 that says "The Los Angeles School Police Department is Hiring!" when the district sends layoffs to 7,000?

Remember, this is the department of the idiot who shot himself and shut down the Valley. This is the department that still does not have any apparent public oversight for officer misbehavior. This is a department that costs the district money in legal settlements for said misbehavior. This is the department I called on March 8th of this year for parents whose daughter had run away as soon as she'd been dropped off at school, that didn't want to talk to the parents on the phone, and that then took an hour to get to the school. Fortunately I called the LAPD at the same time and they arrived in about 15 minutes. (The girl returned the next day, by the way. Phew!)

I could go on (and on!) but I'll end with this forward from PTA dad, friend, and advocate for kids Scott Folsom on his views of Luis Sanchez: "Luis's running like he's against the bureaucrats and he's the bureaucrat in chief. The most Inside of the Beaudry Insiders, He sits in the secret board meetings. Luis is a way to use shameless and shameful in the same sentence. Or perhaps ask 'Have you no no shame, sir?' On Monday the final pink slips go out - Luis might as well deliver them himself. But how do I really feel?"

Yours in the cause of quality, fun and loving education for all,



Sunday, May 15, 2011

State of Emergency Declared for Public School Funding

First published in EchoParkPatch on 2011-05-15

"Please don't punish our teachers for their hard work!" — Nathaniel Farley (LAUSD Student 2011-05-13)

Keep the PUBLIC in public schools and libraries
Miguel Contreras Learning Complex is a neighboring school on the corners of 3rd Street and Lucas Avenue. From there teachers, students, community leaders, and parents held a press conference declaring a State of Emergency in regards to the debilitating funding crisis that has seen $22 billion in cuts to California's K-12 schools, which includes over $1.9 billion in cuts to LAUSD alone.

The press conference was the culmination a week of actions that preceded a march past LAUSD headquarters on Beaudry Avenue and ended at a rally of several thousands of demonstrators at Pershing Square. Similar rallies and pickets were held Statewide.

One teacher explained that the chaos a Reduction In Force notice (RIF, a layoff notice) causes doesn't compare to having had to tell her students who were devastated they wouldn't see her again next year. She explained this is her third RIF notice in the last two years.

Echo Parque's very own Eva Rivas, a Logan Avenue ES mom, spoke passionately against the cuts and in support of teachers. Rivas is very active in our community on education issues, and was an early supporter of the LD4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan.

Perhaps the most powerful speaker was student Nathaniel Farley, who discussed how many teachers he and his classmates have lost over the past years, and how his classes have grown in size. Farley discussed seeing elective classes being eliminated, and finished his speech with the poignant plea to lawmakers:

"Please don't punish our teachers for their hard work!"

Officers of the working class organization United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) provided some important facts. Betty Forester noted that the cuts directly corresponded to ever increasing class sizes. A.J. Duffy noted that "California ranks at the bottom of all 50 states in the ratios of teachers, school counselors, librarians, and nurses to students.

Think about that last statement. California's economy is the eighth largest economy in the world, but ranks at the bottom in student to education worker ratio. The California Teachers Association is calling on all of us to demand lawmakers pass the tax extensions to prevent deeper cuts. But the tax extensions, many of which are regressive, are just a beginning of what real budget justice would look like in California. According to the California Budget Project, the bottom fifth of California income earners pay 11.7%, while the top one percent only pay 7.1%. Just raising the rate of the top to equal that of the bottom would make this discussion moot.

Locally, the privatization friendly school board has used to the ongoing budget cuts to lay off more public school teachers while giving schools away to privately run corporate charter schools. Charters drain much needed money and resources out of LAUSD, exacerbating the problems of public schools. Outgoing District 5 Board Trustee Yolie Flores has actually been known to relish laying off public school teachers. When community members and teachers held hunger strikes in June of 2009, she mocked those individuals by saying:

"Yolie Flores Aguilar once said to me and others during the hunger strike that the threat of "recall" was not going to work on her, that not passing the budget would put the many progressive programs this school board has put into effect in jeopardy, like "all day kindergarten", and that her passion for public education cannot be questions. [sic]"

Here are three ways we can all support those fighting the budget cuts and exposing the State of Emergency in our public schools and public services.

  1. Call Lawmakers and Urge Them to Support Governor Brown's Temporary Tax Extension
  2. Vote Tuesday for LAUSD candidate Bennet Kayser who opposes both the budget cuts and the giving away of our public schools to privately operated corporate charter schools
  3. Contact LAUSD and demand they stop hiring anti-public school executives like Maria Casillas for six figure salaries and to stop firing Librarians.

Until we organize and begin to demand budget justice, a progressive tax structure, and an end to tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy, we will be fighting a constant State of Emergency, just as Naomi Klein points out in her book The Shock Doctrine.


Dr. Stephen Krashen on The Case for Libraries

"When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself." — Isaac Asimov

Keep the PUBLIC in public schools and libraries
The mayor's budget experts who want to cut public library funding should consider the extraordinary amount of research on the impact of libraries on children.

Of the many items in the San Diego Union over the last few days about libraries ("Sanders to propose deep cuts to parks, libraries," April 15; "Community life thrives at endangered public libraries," April 16; Letters, April 16), only Pam Munoz Ryan ("Improving literacy through school libraries," April 16) mentioned these studies: They show that when children have access to good public and/or school libraries with plenty of good books and with adequate staffing, they read more, and thus do better on reading tests. For children of poverty, public and school libraries are typically the only possible source of reading material.

We complain that children don't read well enough, but we make it impossible for them to improve.

These commments were sent the San Diego Union Tribune

Stephen Krashen, PhD, is a Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California


Friday, May 13, 2011

The Importance of Tuesday's Runoff for LAUSD District 5 Board Seat

First published in EchoParkPatch on 2011-05-13

"Luis Sanchez...worked the room at a posh Beverly Hills condo...The nearly 50 guests drank Au Bon Climat chardonnay and Piper Sonoma sparkling wine as Sanchez's backers, including school board President Monica Garcia and charter school leaders, lauded him..." — Los Angeles Times

Photo Credit HJ Ralston. Tuesday's election will determine whether we have a school board member who listens to our community and parents or one beholden to the deep pocketed corporate charter school sector. If you live in LAUSD District 5, your vote matt
Los Angeles School District Board of Education District 5 encompasses the broadest region of all districts, including all of Silver Lake, and slivers of Echo Park, Elysian Heights, and Historic Filipinotown. While most of the latter mentioned areas are in District 2, enough are in District 5 to make a profound difference in the outcome of the Tuesday, May 17, 2011 elections. Please check with the Los Angeles City Clerk Elections Division if you are unsure of your district.

What's at stake? The current LAUSD Board is comprised of a solid majority of trustees who serve the interests of the corporate education reform cabal that is privatizing public education at an astonishing rate. Outgoing District 5 Board Member Yolie Flores is leaving behind a tragic legacy of privatization, vindictive school closures, and hostile takeovers. For her loyal service to the Billionaire Boys Club, she has been rewarded with a cushy six-figure job working for the anti-public education Gates Foundation.

Tuesday's runoff election will determine whether Flores and her corporate backers' handpicked successor Luis Sanchez will continue selling off the school district one piece at a time to wealthy charter school interests, or if neighborhood local, retired teacher, and public school supporter Bennet Keyser will be elected to start a process of implementing real reforms at LAUSD.

I've been writing about Sanchez and his political cohorts for some years. He has been Chief of Staff to LAUSD Board President Mónica García since she was first elected. Garcia is one of Mayor Villaraigosa's closest allies and a major collaborator with the lucrative charter-voucher school industry.

During the first round of the deceptively named Public School Choice (PSC) process:

Sanchez and his wife, Maria Brenes, used their 501C3 Inner City Struggle (ICS) to help Yolie Flores threaten the Garfield High School (GHS) community for over a year. Providing political cover and material support for Flores' PSC and Ben Austin's LAPU/PR, ICS kept the Garfield community in turmoil with constant fear of a hostile take over. Ironically, in the end, none of the Charter Management Organizations bid on GHS in the PSC round because they realized it would impact their bottom lines. Sadly the GHS community's own school improvement progress was held back by Sanchez, Brenes, and Flores' power politics on behalf of their charter backers.

Not content with using his 501C3 ICS for Green Dot Charter Corporations' fortunes alone, Sanchez also allegedly used those selfsame offices and employees to phone-bank for his campaign. All the while he has been a public employee — certainly a conflict of interest. In fact, there hasn't been a single time during his career as a LAUSD bureaucrat that he hasn't sided with the wealthy executives of the charter school sector, partly explaining the LA Times quote at the start of this article.

On key issues important to Echo Park area voters, the difference in the candidates couldn't be more pronounced. When asked if they agreed with our community's choice of the public school plan for CRES #14 versus the takeover by the privately run charter operator CNCA Corporation, Kayser unequivocally supported the public school plan by Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Design Team Partners, while Sanchez avoided answering the question altogether, probably because of his close friendship with several CNCA Corporation executives. Even when pressed by members of Echo Park Moms 4 Education, Sanchez evaded the question that meant so much to our community. In the end, Sanchez's close ally on the LAUSD Board, the current holder of the District 5 seat, handed the multi-million dollar facility over to an outside private operator that still hasn't committed to teaching English classes in a neighborhood noted for it's cultural diversity.

On the issue of the PSC advisory vote, currently threatened by Superintendent John Deasy and the Coalition for School Reform backed School Board members (the same group financing much of the Sanchez campaign), Sanchez again refuses to comment. His campaign offices were sent multiple email messages as well as several phone calls to Lizette Patron at his headquarters, but they refused to respond to the question. In contrast, Kayser not only supports keeping the advisory vote, but said in a telephone interview that "I want it to be more binding." In other words, he wants the district to actually listen to the community and parents, something PSC was ostensibly supposed to do when it was first being proposed. We only have a few weeks left to save the advisory vote, and the support of a potential incoming candidate could sway some of the current fence sitters on the current board to keep democratic measures and rights associated with voting as part of PSC.

Who funds the candidates also says a lot about who they will serve. Sanchez handily outstripped his opponents in the primaries, with more and more money pouring in every day from far right-wing ideologues and billionaires bent on destroying public education including Eli Broad, Philip Anschutz, and many more. Here's an abbreviated quote from the website of the corporate and plutocrat funded Coalition for School Reform:

Luis Sanchez...paid for by the Coalition for School Reform. Major funding by Jerry Perenchio and Reed Hastings.

In other words, the biggest enemies of public education and those that stand to profit from privatization via charters are dumping millions into Sanchez's coffers. Not too hard to figure out who he will serve if elected.

Kayser on the other hand is supported by the working class organization United Teachers of Los Angeles, community members, social justice groups, and The Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP).

In the end, on all the issues that matter to both the communities and parents of Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown, Elysian Heights, and Silver Lake ares, Bennet Kayser is the obvious choice.

Several of us will be volunteering our time this weekend for a last minute push, contact me if you want to help, and don't forget to Vote on Tuesday.


Those who can, teach

Funny how the cretinous idiots that write "those that can't, teach" learned how to write from a teacher! — Robert D. Skeels

Those who can, teach. Those who cannot pass laws about teaching.

The button reads "Those who can, teach. Those who cannot pass laws about teaching."

See the comments following for how to obtain this brilliant button.


Professor Michael Moore: Cornering the education market

The testing business is a $2.3 billion business. But testing is not where the real money is made. If you want to pass the test, you're going to need preparation materials. — Prof. Michael Moore

In the long run, charter schools are being strategically used to pave the way for vouchers. - Jonathan Kozol
It's testing time around Georgia, despite widespread criticism about the inability of the state's standardized tests to reflect student -- let alone teacher -- performance.

Georgia is hip-deep in the school assessment racket, which quietly lines the coffers of corporations beyond the view of an unsuspecting public.

Unfortunately, Georgia may soon be even deeper in the grip of these corporate interests.

Looming on the horizon is the multi-billion dollar battle for common core assessments. But what we don't realize is that the real battle is over far more than assessments; it covers all aspects of curriculum.

A quick reminder of how we got to this point.

Georgia's tests are not made by our state. CTB/McGraw-Hill, which is in the fifth year of a five-year, $62.5 million contract, makes our tests. CTB/McGraw-Hill also makes tests for at least 11 other states, Washington D.C., and the Department of Defense.

At the post-secondary level, the Pearson Company makes the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE). Pearson makes certification tests for other states too.

The testing business is a $2.3 billion business. But testing is not where the real money is made. If you want to pass the test, you're going to need preparation materials.

If your child brings home a text from Glencoe, Macmillan, SRA, Open Court or The Grow Network, among others, then your child is using a McGraw-Hill text. The test preparation materials business surely dwarfs the testing business.

This is still small beer compared with what's to come. This week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation (a non-profit organization owned by, well, the for-profit version of the Pearson company) announced that the two were working together to create complete online curricula for the new common core standards in math and English language arts for elementary through high school.

This off-the-shelf curricula includes the materials, the teacher preparation, teacher development and, of course, the assessments.

Interestingly, Phil Daro and Sally Hampton from America's Choice, who helped draft the common core standards, are heading up this development.

Confused? Did I forget to mention that Pearson bought America's Choice last summer?

This information is hardly surprising. Of the 14 members of the Common Core English/Language Arts Standards writing committee, seven worked for ACT or SAT, two of the biggest test makers in America.

Three members work for Achieve, another non-profit organization that helps states -- guess what? -- form assessments for standards, and happens to be the creator of the American Diploma Project Network.

See how nicely this dovetails with ACT and SAT? Another standards writer, David Coleman, formed the Grow Network, which he sold to--there they are again-McGraw-Hill.

I am usually not a conspiracy theorist. But my scorecard shows 11 members of the English/Language Arts Standards writing team had ties to companies with a financial interest in the committee's decision.

Adding insult to injury, no members of the Work Group were K-12 teachers and no teachers were mentioned in the Gates/Pearson curriculum announcement.

If you're following the money, it goes like this: Link the common core standards to winning "Race to the Top" money, then link this to these quasi non-profits (which really aren't non-profit) testing companies who get to use federal money to fund the creation of standards' assessments and who had a seat(s) at the standards writing table, and you've got the creation of quite the little market corner.

Georgia may be unintentionally proving the assessment of Grover "Russ" Whitehurst, a former research guru for the U.S. Department of Education and current director of the Brown Center for Education Policy at the Brookings Institute.

"It's easier to have good-sounding rhetoric about new materials, thinking, approaches, technology than it is to do it," he said.

Apparently, we are going to develop testing and curricula using the "Windows Model." We'll release it, and we'll fix the bugs later.

If you're a teacher, administrator or teacher educator, it has to be a bit overwhelming to realize that you not have a seat at the table; we don't even know where the table is.

Michael Moore is a professor of literacy education at Georgia Southern University. mmoore@georgiasouthern.edu


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Get Involved. Speak Up. Jose Lara on point as always.

[click here if you can't view this video]


Walk out Huntington Park HS - Students respond to Deasy-Flores, Inc. shutdown of their community school

[click here if you can't view this video]


Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action

[click here if you can't view this video]


Echo Park Moms leading the way. Demand your right to vote! No more LAUSD privatization without representation!

First published in EchoParkPatch on 2011-05-10

"Supporters of the controversial [PSC] plan say it is part of a much-needed reform effort that takes decision-making out of the hands of bureaucrats and special interests and puts it in the hands of parents and the community." — Connie Llanos

Charter Voucher Charlatans Now Advocating AIG Style Derivatives
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Tamar Galatzan — one of Philip Anschutz's preferred LAUSD Board Members — want to remove the last vestiges of democracy from an already undemocratic process that gives public schools away to private charter corporations.

There is now an online petition to sign if you think that removing the public advisory vote from the deceptively named Public School Choice resolution (PSC) is a move that disenfranchises and disempowers communities.

KEEP the Parent Advisory Vote, The Only Voice parents have in the CHOICE process

The first resistance to the removal of the community advisory vote was by non other than Echo Parque's very own Echo Park Moms 4 Education group. They sent out an open letter to the Los Angeles public decrying the pending loss of the public advisory vote portion of the PSC process.

Echo Park Moms 4 Education: URGENT - Parent Wake-Up Call on Tuesday May 10th!!!

The open letter urges everyone to contact the School Board and demand they keep the advisory vote. Those sentiments were endorsed by several more organizations including

  • Coalition for Educational Justice Echo Parque/Historic Filipinotown (CEJ)
  • People's Assembly for Popular Education & Liberation (PAPEL)
  • Chicano/Latino Artists for Social Equality (CLASE)
  • Congreso Internacional de Mujeres Activistas de las Americas (CIMA)
  • Congreso de Estados Mexicanos en el Exterior (CEME)
  • The Senate Select Community Committee on California's Correctional System (SSCCCCS)

Maria Casillas, president of the right-wing school privatization advocacy group called Families in Schools (FIS) was commissioned to provide LAUSD with a position paper on the advisory vote. The report, entitled A Report on the Public School Choice 2.0 Advisory Vote Process is perhaps one of the most biased and dishonest accounts of the community advisory votes one could imagine. FIS recommends removing the last semblance of democracy from an already undemocratic process called Public School Choice discusses that document LAUSD is using to justify this move.

On Tuesday May 10, 2011, a group of parents, led by Echo Park Moms 4 Education will protest in front of LAUSD headquarters. Please get involved and let the board know we will not be silenced.

When PSC was first being debated, charter-voucher school advocates like Ben Austin were saying "The collective decisions of hundreds of thousands of parents doing right by their own child gets us to a better place than where we are now ... completely captured by bureaucrats." Notice that neither Austin's right wing privatization organization nor any other so-called "parental engagement" non-profits are protesting the pending loss of the advisory vote, putting to lie all their bluster about parent power. From the beginning their only designs were to increase charter school market share.

We need to show these astroturf groups what real parent and community power looks like. Whose schools? Our schools!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Labor Vision TV Diane Ravitch Ph.D at Rhode Island College

[click here if you can't view this video]


Friday, May 06, 2011

FIS recommends removing the last semblance of democracy from an already undemocratic process called Public School Choice

LAUSD's Public School Choice is already an anti-democratic measure to give public schools away to private charter corporations. Removing the advisory vote makes PSC all the more totalitarian and entirely removes community and parental voice. Either keep the advisory votes or repeal PSC altogether. This article discusses the document LAUSD is using to justify this move.

"Improving education is not the goal. Privatization is the goal... Private interests are just that – private." — Bruce A. Dixon (Managing Editor, "Black Agenda Report")

One of the many busloads of CNCA and FTC's outsiders not mentioned in the FIS report.
Families in Schools (FIS) is a far right-wing school privatization advocacy group with deep ties to and ample funding by the lucrative charter-voucher school industry. They are outspoken advocates for former President George W. Bush's discredited and destructive No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. As part of their campaign to eliminate all vestiges of public schools, they were one of the leading voices in the corporate din pushing LAUSD's Yolie Flores-Aguilar's corporate charter giveaway motion, deceptively named Public School Choice (PSC).

FIS is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation, Walmart Foundation, and others including JPMorgan Chase. While the latter of the three isn't known for promoting school privatization yet, the former two certainly are. Annenberg Foundation is one of the leading advocates outside of the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate of school privatization via charter-voucher schools. Obviously, the Walmart Foundation is guided by the Walton heirs, and their agenda is well known. As vehement opponents to public education, The Annenberg and Waltons massive wealth funnels into countless 501C3 proxies supporting school privatization around the country. In Los Angeles, FIS is joined by several other organizations whose sole existence is to provide material support and political cover for the charter-voucher school sector including Families That Can (FTC), Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), Parent Revolution (neé Los Angeles Parents Union), and the California Charter School Association in their efforts to privatize schools. FIS' board of directors is stacked with business bankers, and wealthy foundation presidents.

FIS is led by long time public education enemy Maria Casillas. Casillas is celebrated among charter school executives as an individual who has no scruples about lying and slandering in order to effect her right wing agenda. FIS' 2009 Form Part VII Section A shows Maria Casillas raking in an astonishing $145,333 for her role in school privatization, union busting, and community disenfranchisement. Furthermore, Casillas sits on the boards of other charter advocacy 501C3s, and her tireless work towards privatizing LAUSD and disempowering communities has been rewarded with a second six figure job, now at LAUSD pushing charter-voucher schools under Broad/Gates' Superintendent John Deasy's regime. Known for her foul mouth and Ayn Rand inspired hatred of all things communal, Casillas is considered a pariah by grassroots education activists who struggle against the charter school non-profit industrial complex paid for by the plutocrat class.

The mean-spirited Casillas vitriol for schoolteachers and public schools knows no bounds. At a disgusting press conference on November 10, 2009 she, ABC, Yolie Flores, and other charter proxy groups held in front of UTLA Casillas made the most vile slander against the courageous individuals who educate the children in our communities. In Casillas' speech she accused UTLA of creating a flyer that informed undocumented parents that they could be deported. This flyer was almost certainly created by her or one of her allies [1] in order to smear UTLA, whose record on defending immigrant rights is exemplary. Casillas went on to say (I was there and this is a direct quote): "UTLA needs to muzzle its dogs" in reference to the pitched community and teacher led opposition campaign to prevent Yolie Flores' PSC privatization scheme from passing.

Given FIS' deep rooted disdain for community organizing, public input to the school board, or anyone that opposes the corporate reform agenda, one would think that anyone in the school district would realize that their privatization agenda clouds all their interactions with public schools. Instead, LAUSD actually hired FIS to write a report on removing the only democratic portion of the PSC — the advisory votes where communities express their desires for whether schools remain public schools or be turned over to privately run charter corporations.

The report, entitled A Report on the Public School Choice 2.0 Advisory Vote Process is perhaps one of the most biased and dishonest accounts of the community advisory votes around. Going further than the one sided League of Women Voters' report which ostensibly documented alleged electioneering, the FIS report makes wild and specious accusations towards community groups, schoolteachers, and public employees. There's no mention in FIS' report about any foul play by the well financed charter-voucher school campaigns to seize public schools. Not a peep. Instead it's a smear job against public schools on the highest order. The slanderous report concludes that the advisory votes be done away with altogether and the LAUSD Board of Trustees is about to follow FIS' unqualified advice to remove the last vestiges of public input into a process that hands public schools over to private corporations.

Just to get an idea of how insidious and dishonest the report is, here are some excerpts with my comments illuminating and rebutting them.

Page 6
Observers reported incidents where applicant teams bused voters in from areas outside of the PSC community to vote as an "other parent" or "community" member. In addition, in some cases, parents and students asked for vote center volunteers to provide them with "proof" of their vote because their teacher or their child's teacher had promised some form of incentive for voting. The LWVLA notified all voters seeking such verification that none would be provided. This raises enormous concerns that parents and students might have been influenced to vote for an applicant without regard for the quality of the plan, based solely on the recommendation of the teacher.

FIS discusses buses here, and insinuates that the teacher lead teams were involved with them. However, in every documented case of buses, they were used by the charter-voucher applicant teams. The photograph above, taken by the author at Rosemont ES during the CRES #14 advisory vote, was one of nearly a dozen brought in by the Camino Nuevo Charter Corporation. Many charters count participation in the advisory votes toward their parents' required "volunteer hours." So here, not only is the information presented in a misleading way in order to implicate public school employees, but the conclusion is erroneous as well. Community members and parents have ample opportunities to familiarize themselves with the plans.

Page 8
Impacted schools are not welcoming of Public School Choice as a reform strategy. Most school staff, along with their bargaining units, view the PSC strategy as a hostile takeover and are mobilizing their resources to oppose any proposal from external teams. However, at the same time, staff at the impacted schools is trusted by parents and community members to receive objective information about the process and about the school proposals, which creates a significant conflict of interest. Surveys reveal that parents are relying on the school/staff to get information about the process - 78% and about the school plans - 82%.

Community members and social justice advocates view the handing of public schools to private charter corporations as hostile takeovers. Any rational person would. That's besides the point. PSC was never intended as a reform strategy, just a way to grow charter market share. Charter schools are NOT public schools — Most courts have ruled that charter schools are not "public entities." Two well known examples include the California Court of Appeals (2007-01-10) and the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010-01-04).

FIS' statement that public school staff are "mobilizing their resources" against outside groups is disingenuous unless coupled with the truth that the charter-voucher schools do the same. Charter corporation actually have many resources at their disposal to get their message across to parents. Notice FIS makes no mention of when charter school staff talk to parents about going to participate in the advisory vote. The report's constant attacks against public schoolteachers and public employee bargaining units sounds identical to that of several midwest governors, not surprising, given their goal is the same. Why shouldn't parents trust teachers or ask them their opinion on who should run the school? Unlike FIS' Maria Casillas, Kaci Patterson, and Oscar Cruz, they don't harbor a sense of deep seated hatred against the hardworking people teaching in our schools.

Page 9
Protocols for "community" and "other parent" voter categories produce unreliable results as there are no mechanisms to verify voter eligibility at the site. In addition, in both PSC 1.0 and 2.0, applicant teams abused the vague nature of the categories to stack the vote with their supporters.

It is now clear to FIS that the election-style process remains flawed. In addition, there is great concern that with the increased number of impacted schools in PSC 3.0 and in light of limited resources available the challenges faced in PSC 1.0 and PSC 2.0 will only be exacerbated. Therefore, the most significant recommendation submitted by FIS is to replace the advisory vote with strategies that effectively engage parents in learning about school performance, in voicing their concerns and needs, and in providing feedback to the applicant teams.

Rather than fix the protocols, let's eschew the votes altogether? Our communities pay for the schools through our property taxes, but FIS would have our opinions left out of the process. Community members and parents were already disrespected in the regard that our votes are only advisory, and that most LAUSD Board Trustees are interested in satisfying the demands of the wealthy Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) clamoring for more and more of the public commons. Casillas' organization isn't concerned about democracy or what communities want though, so not only do they recommend ending the advisory vote, they offer nothing tangible as a suggested replacement. Feedback? Is that anything like the advisory boards at charter-voucher schools that patronize parents by feigning to listen and then do what their corporate boards demand in order to protect their bottom line? Here FIS isn't even trying to hide their function as a charter advocacy group.

Page 10
The District should incorporate within its current accountability system, a process that guides and monitors school and local district staff to implement the overall PSC process with integrity and fidelity, welcoming all parties, and enabling parents to participate in the process without fear or intimidation.

This is a slur against public schoolteachers. Will FIS request the California Charter School Association do the same with all the charter schools participating in the process? Or does the mendacious FIS maintain that only public school employees engage in the questionable behavior? Since not all parties are interested in supporting public education, but instead privatization, they shouldn't be welcomed to begin with. Corporate charters are anathema to public education and community.

Page 11
The recommendation to eliminate the advisory vote comes from understanding that the problems inherent in the process are too many and too large for a quick fix.

Instead of a quick fix, why not a moratorium on the PSC process until a fair and equitable advisory vote process is included? Better still, let's make the advisory vote binding instead of advisory. Even better, let's get rid of PSC altogether!

From the get go, the PSC process pits CMOs and charters with budgets bolstered by billionaires like Eli Broad, Bill Gates, The Walton fortune heirs, Reed Hastings, and more against underfunded public schools. It pits charters with professional marketing teams against overworked schoolteachers, scattered community members, and exasperated parents. It pits the corporate reform cheerleading media, happy to write pro-charter applicant team articles, against design teams with no access to publicity. The so-called Public School Choice resolution has never been about public schools, and now that the advisory vote is about to be ditched it should be clear to everyone that it's never been about "choice" either.

In a word, PSC is divisive, elitist, and antidemocratic. Its primary aim from the beginning was to provide the lucrative charter-voucher school industry with market share growth beyond their wildest dreams at the expense of our communities and tax dollars. FIS are shameless right wingers that like their counterparts, The Heritage Foundation, The Heartland Institute, and the Cato Institute, advocate for wholesale dismantling of public education. There's no surprises there.

What's surprising and shameful is that both LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and a good portion of the LAUSD Board of Trustees promoted this report on LAUSD's website and are using the report to justify eliminating the one way communities could make their voices heard.

Join parents on Tuesday May 10, 2011 and demand the district retain the advisory vote or put a moratorium on PSC!

[1] There was no organization or identifying information of the flyer whatsoever. While it's plausible that an anti-charter element could have created the flyer, it's far more likely that the CCSA proxies like FIS or ABC would have done it in order to delegitimize UTLA at a time when public sentiment was clearly in favor of public schools over charter-voucher schools. It is my strong belief that the flyer was created by ABC's Jarad Sanchez or even Maria Casillas herself [2]. Journalist Caroline Grannan also suspects the 501C3 CCSA proxies of this underhanded tactic. Given that the flyer was allegedly being distributed in the McAuthur Park area, and that the public school plan for Gratts ES had beaten the privatizations plan by Para Los Niños corporation by a 93% to 7% margin in the advisory vote, it flies in the face of logic that the flyer was being passed around by public school supporters.

[2] Casillas' sense of self importance is so inflated that she created an award for school privatization advocates in her own name called the "Maria A. Casillas Award." First recipient? None other than the queen of school privation, the despicable Yolie Flores-Aguilar. Typically awards with a persons name attached to them are created after a person retires, but not in this shameless case.


Echo Park Moms 4 Education: URGENT - Parent Wake-Up Call on Tuesday May 10th!!!

This press release was created by Echo Park Moms 4 Education, and is endorsed by Echo Parque/Historic Filipinotown members of Coalition for Educational Justice. If your organization would like to endorse contact this CEJ representative and the endorsement will be forwarded to Echo Park Moms 4 Education and included here. See FIS recommends removing the last semblance of democracy from an already undemocratic process called Public School Choice for information on the individuals, organizations, and documents behind the excuses being used by LAUSD to eliminate our democratic rights!

PSC is already an anti-democratic measure to give public schools away to private corporations. Removing the advisory vote makes it totalitarian and removes all community voice.

Please pass this on right away. We only have till Tuesday May 10th to try and stop something bad:

For Immediate Release:

URGENT - Parent Wake-Up Call on Tuesday May 10th!!!

On TUESDAY MAY 10TH at 1 PM, (at 333 Beaudry Avenue, LA 90017), school board members from LAUSD are going to vote to REPEAL the Parent Advisory Vote in Los Angeles!! This Parent Advisory Vote, (part of the Public School Choice motion), is the primary way parents get to voice their preference for which school they want for their children, in their neighborhood, and to get that parental preference into the legal record.

If the Parent Advisory Vote is taken away from us, the board members will no longer be obligated to listen to what kind of school we want, and there will be no formal record that we ever wanted anything different than what THEY decide to give us. So in essence, they are taking away our voice so they can privatize without challenge and give away our local public schools to professional charter organizations backed by hedge fund investors — not educators.

Once a professional charter is in place in your neighborhood, a sneaky waiver allows them to take over your "Attendance Boundary" school and your child is ASSIGNED to this school. This new charter entity now becomes your "neighborhood school" but with none of the legal accountability to parents that public schools provide . Ultimately, this means it's the one option you get for a neighborhood school, but with no say in how funds are allocated at the school, the way you have with public schools. Then your only other option is private school, or finding another LAUSD school with space that you can get in — and this will probably mean enduring costly transportation to a more distant location, if you choose to look for a public school elsewhere, and IF you can get in.

If this school board decision to eliminate the Parent Advisory Vote deeply troubles you as much as it does me, PLEASE COME DOWNTOWN on TUESDAY MAY 10TH at 1 PM, and let the LAUSD board members know that they CANNOT eliminate the rights of parents to choose the neighborhood schools for their children. These schools are for our kids! NOT for board members to advance their career agendas as they move on to charter-associated jobs when they leave. Please come even if you live in a different district, because this change is spreading through the country.

But if you cannot make it, there are two other things you can do:

1) Send a note expressing your unhappiness with this plan to the following links.

LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: http://lacity.org/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm
LAUSD BOARD MEMBERS: http://www.lausd.net/lausd/board/secretary/index2.html
MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA: http://mayor.lacity.org/MeettheMayor/AsktheMayor/index.htm

Here is a sample note, but of course write whatever you feel:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to say I consider it UNACCEPTABLE that the school board is attempting to eliminate the Parent Advisory Vote. The Parent Advisory Vote is my right as a parent and community member to express my preference for which school is chosen for my children in the neighborhood I live in.

I will hold everyone who allows this to happen responsible when it comes time for me to vote, should this decision go through.


2) Vote in the runoff election for Bennet Kayser on TUESDAY MAY 17TH
He's willing to listen to the parents versus just falling in line with the corporate-backed charters.

Endorsed by:
Echo Park Moms 4 Education
Coalition for Educational Justice Echo Parque/Historic Filipinotown (CEJ)
People's Assembly for Popular Education & Liberation (PAPEL)
Chicano/Latino Artists for Social Equality (CLASE)
Congreso Internacional de Mujeres Activistas de las Americas (CIMA)
Congreso de Estados Mexicanos en el Exterior (CEME)
The Senate Select Community Committee on California's Correctional System (SSCCCCS)